The Wall Street Journal has the best headline for this story: “Gingrich to House GOP: Drop Dead”. Newt Gingrich appeared on NBC′s ″Meet the Press″ on Sunday and called the 2012 budget plan by Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) too “radical”. Proposed reforms to Social Security and Medicare benefits by Ryan were the chief issue for Gingrich. Under Ryan’s proposal, seniors would get $15,000 per year to purchase private Medicare plans, which would introduce competition to lower costs and improve quality. This is essentially what government employees, including members of Congress, currently have. So why did Newt Gingrich attack the Paul Ryan plan and possibly derail his bid to seek the 2012 Republican presidential nomination less than a week into his campaign?
There is a school of thought that Gingrich is not a serious candidate. That he has little chance of winning the nomination, let alone any primaries, and that his real purpose in running to merely to boost book sales and validate an increase in his speaker fees. Such may be a cynical perspective, but it is a school of thought that is currently making the rounds amongst GOP Conservatives.
Others will argue that despite a few conservative sound bytes, Gingrich is no conservative at all. Certainly not in the realm of social conservatism, given his personal life and spotty marriages. His latest excuse for his infidelity is that he worked too hard at his job because he loves America so much. I suppose he couldn′t blame his dog for it.
On the fiscal side of conservatism, Gingrich is also playing fast and loose. He supports the concept of the individual mandate for health care, which is the crux of several pending court actions against Obama-Care and whether or not it is constitutional for the Federal government to force people to buy a service. In 1997, Gingrich expanded Medicare entitlements which led to the S-CHIP program for children. In 2003, Gingrich supported the Medicare drug program. So while Gingrich claims he wants to repeal Obama-Care, he appears to have no problem expanding the government′s role in health care services. If that was not bad enough, Gingrich also made a commercial with former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi promoting Cap and Trade for carbon emissions, which would have increased government control over nearly every aspect of the private sector and raised energy prices as well.
So it is no wonder why conservatives like Rush Limbaugh and others came out swinging yesterday, attacking Newt Gingrich for his attack of the Paul Ryan 2012 budget. Ryan′s proposal for reforming Social Security and Medicare benefits is similar to one that Gingrich himself proposed back in 1995, when he still appeared to be a small-government advocate. But by 1997, Gingrich had begun going along with Progressives in expanding the government′s power and reach, much like Barack Obama is doing today. With his 2012 Presidential campaign for the GOP nomination barely a week old, Newt Gingrich may have just stepped on a political landmine and has blown his already feeble legs off.